Springfield Police and Fire Unions Endorse MGM Casino Proposal
MGM Resorts International's bid to develop a casino in Springfield got a boost Wednesday, when the local police and fire unions endorsed MGM'S proposed project.
Public safety union members joined MGM top brass at the company's Main Street headquarters to announce the endorsements. Joe Gentile is president of the local policeman's union. He says his union believes in MGM's commitment to the city - one which will include significant investment to make sure public safety infrastructure is sufficient to meet new demands created by the $800-plus million project.
"MGM's project will also turn the lights back on in a section of the city, the South End, that has been really hard hit of late. Along with neighborhood revitalization, we love MGM's proposal to make Symphony Hall, CitiStage and the MassMutual Center direct beneficiaries of their global entertainment outreach, bringing the best shows and entertainment back to Springfield. What better way to reduce crime in the city of Springfield than to have the streets full of couples, full of families after 5 o'clock."
Union officials say theirs is an "exclusive" endorsement. Asked whether union officials had met with MGM's remaining Springfield competitor -- Penn National Gaming -- Gentile said Penn made no effort to contact the unions - unlike MGM.
"We think the fact that they came to town and sought out the police and fire unions right away shows their commitment to public safety and that means a lot to us."
A Penn National spokesman could not be reached for comment for this story. MGM is now airing local television advertisements featuring police and firefighters praising its south end project - all part of a bid to gain favor with city hall, and city voters.